Bicycle theft in Ireland has doubled in Ireland since the introduction of the Bike to Work scheme in 2009. Almost 4,500 bicycle thefts were reported in Dublin in 2013, but the actual number of bike thefts is likely to be in the region of 20,000 in 2013 according to Irish household surveys and international experience[3,4]. The chances of a bike thief being caught is low, with a conviction rate of only 2% or reported thefts. Approximately 230,000 bicycles are imported into Ireland each year. “Bike theft is a low-risk, high-reward crime. If cars were being stolen at this rate there would be uproar.” Says Keith Byrne, Chairperson of the Dublin Cycling Campaign.
Fear of bicycle theft may discourage bicycle use and many bicycle theft victims do not buy a replacement [7,8]. “Many people give up on cycling after their bicycle is stolen and it discourages others from taking up cycling as the word about the high risk of theft spreads. We need a co-ordinated multi-agency plan to tackle bicycle theft if we are to reach the Government target of 10% of journeys by bicycle by 2020” says Keith Byrne.
The Dublin Cycling Campaign has been investigating the issue and researching how the problem has been tackled in other countries, in particular The Netherlands. David Timoney, the campaign researcher, says “We need a multi-pronged approach: a massive increase in secure bicycle parking throughout the city, more action by the Gardai to detect and deter bicycle theft, a tighter code of practice for buyers and sellers of second hand bikes on line and more responsibility taken by cyclists in buying better locks, not buying second hand stolen bikes and always reporting stolen bikes to the Gardai”. The campaign has drawn up a code of practice for online sellers, buyers and bicycle shops.
“Most important, however is the establishment of a state co-ordinating body to oversee the work of the various stakeholders (bike groups, Gardai, websites, shops, council, planners etc). International experience has shown that without this political commitment little can be achieved” says David Timoney. The cycling campaign is calling on the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to set up the co-ordinating body to tackle bike theft. Keith Byrne says: “A standard city-type bicycle now costs upwards of €700 to replace so the authorities need to take the high incidence of theft seriously. It’s not opportunistic – it’s organised. Go get em”!
The cycling campaign has this advice for cyclists. Use a good lock and always lock the frame to a bicycle stand or lamppost. As a rule of thumb the lock should cost 10% of the value of the bicycle. Record the serial number, make and model of your bicycle and take a photo of yourself with the bicycle. Check if you can get your bicycle insured on your house insurance or consider separate bicycle insurance. And don’t forget to lock your bicycle at home or in the garden shed – one third of bicycles are stolen from homes.
The cycling campaign is currently running a survey of cyclists to get more information about when and where bicycles are stolen (www.dublincycling.ie/AvoidTheThief).